LEED Green Building Rating System

The Leadership in Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System
was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 1998. LEED establishes
standards and benchmarks for environmentally sustainable construction. The
technical criteria used to establish these benchmarks are developed by LEED
committees, and are reviewed for approval by the member organizations that
currently encompass the U.S. Green Building Council. By having member
organizations actively participate in the endorsement of LEED criteria, LEED
remains a public-forum, open to change and improvement.

The LEED Green Building Rating System was created to accomplish the following:

  • Establish a common standard of measurement for GREEN building.
  • Promote integrated, whole-building design practices
  • Recognize environmental leadership in the building industry
  • Stimulate GREEN competition
  • Raise consumer awareness of GREEN building benefits
  • Transform the building industry

Since its inception, LEED has grown from a small-scale criterion on GREEN
building into a more complete, six-tiered system of standards encompassing all
areas of the development and construction process. These standards include:

(1) Sustainable Sites
(2) Water Efficiency
(3) Energy and Atmosphere
(4) Materials and Resources
(5) Indoor Environmental Quality
(6) Innovation and Design Process

LEED certification is granted when the builder or architect submits an application to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), documenting their compliance with the LEED rating system. The LEED Green Building Rating system is made up of points. Similar to the Model Green Home Building Guidelines, LEED certification is granted in award levels, determined by the total number of accumulated points. These award levels include:

Certified (26-32); Silver (33-38); Gold (39-51); Platinum (52-69).

The LEED Green Building Rating System does not award points to any individual product. Instead, the cumulative environmental benefits of multiple products used in a given project, collectively contribute to earning LEED points. Currently, LEED criteria only recognizes wood certified through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) governing body.

LEED building projects are investments that promote healthier living and working environments by conserving natural resources, reducing waste and energy consumption, and optimizing efficiency. In comparison to conventional building, the costs involved in GREEN construction are higher. However, federal grants and tax incentives are available for LEED building projects.

Currently LEED is focused on commercial building and multi-family, low income housing. The LEED Residential Construction Standards are being developed and anticipate completion in 2009.